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Atopic Dermatitis

A chronic skin disease characterized by itchy, inflamed skin.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

About Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects the skin. It is not contagious; it cannot be passed from one person to another. The word "dermatitis" means inflammation of the skin. "Atopic" refers to a group of diseases in which there is often an inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.

In atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes extremely itchy. Scratching leads to redness, swelling, cracking, "weeping" clear fluid, and finally, crusting and scaling. In most cases, there are periods of time when the disease is worse (called exacerbations or flares) followed by periods when the skin improves or clears up entirely (called remissions).

As some children with atopic dermatitis grow older, their skin disease improves or disappears altogether, although their skin often remains dry and easily irritated. In others, atopic dermatitis continues to be a significant problem in adulthood.

Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as "eczema," which is a general term for the several types of inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema...Read more about Atopic Dermatitis NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Efficacy and tolerability of topical tacrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Bibliographic details: Li RX, Zhu HL, Fan LM, Ni SK, Feng CE, Wu ZH.  Efficacy and tolerability of topical tacrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2007; 36(12): 757-760

Topical tacrolimus for atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) (or atopic eczema) is a chronic skin condition that affects the quality of life of both adults and children. Topical corticosteroids (TCS) are the main ointments used for treatment, but there is a risk of side‐effects with their use, such as skin thinning. A class of drugs called topical calcineurin inhibitors, which include topical tacrolimus (and pimecrolimus), might provide an alternative to this problem, but since tacrolimus is a newer ointment compared with corticosteroids, there are still some questions about its effectiveness and safety.

Psychological and educational interventions for atopic eczema in children

Atopic eczema is an itchy, inflammatory skin condition, which affects the quality of life of children with eczema and their parents or carers. It affects large and increasing numbers of children worldwide. Psychological and educational approaches have been used to complement medication in managing eczema, for example, by using simple psychological techniques to manage itching and scratching or sleep disturbance. Educational interventions, provided to individuals and groups by nurses or teams of specialists in hospital or community settings, have been used to help parents and children to understand the condition and their role in managing it successfully. However, the effect of these approaches has not been systematically measured.

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Summaries for consumers

Topical tacrolimus for atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) (or atopic eczema) is a chronic skin condition that affects the quality of life of both adults and children. Topical corticosteroids (TCS) are the main ointments used for treatment, but there is a risk of side‐effects with their use, such as skin thinning. A class of drugs called topical calcineurin inhibitors, which include topical tacrolimus (and pimecrolimus), might provide an alternative to this problem, but since tacrolimus is a newer ointment compared with corticosteroids, there are still some questions about its effectiveness and safety.

Psychological and educational interventions for atopic eczema in children

Atopic eczema is an itchy, inflammatory skin condition, which affects the quality of life of children with eczema and their parents or carers. It affects large and increasing numbers of children worldwide. Psychological and educational approaches have been used to complement medication in managing eczema, for example, by using simple psychological techniques to manage itching and scratching or sleep disturbance. Educational interventions, provided to individuals and groups by nurses or teams of specialists in hospital or community settings, have been used to help parents and children to understand the condition and their role in managing it successfully. However, the effect of these approaches has not been systematically measured.

Dietary exclusions for improving established atopic eczema in adults and children

Atopic eczema is the most common inflammatory skin disease of childhood in developed countries. The cause of atopic eczema is probably due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Atopic eczema varies in severity, often from one hour to the next and the disease can be associated with complications such as bacterial and viral infections. There is a substantial economic cost not only to the family of the person with atopic eczema but also to health services. Although there is currently no cure for atopic eczema, a wide range of treatments are used to control the symptoms. One such approach is a dietary one, whereby certain foods such as cows' milk are excluded on the basis that they are thought to cause eczema to worsen. The reason for undertaking this review is because the effectiveness of removing various foods from the diet in the short term management of atopic eczema is unclear.

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More about Atopic Dermatitis

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